New investors push bike business nationally with help from Shield

 01/Jul/2006 17:43:52

With the help of Shield, a quartet of savvy investors have joined multi award-winning entrepreneur Susan Achmatowicz to steer exciting growth in Country Lanes, Britain's leading active travel specialist.

With the help of Shield, a quartet of savvy investors have joined multi award-winning entrepreneur Susan Achmatowicz to steer exciting growth in Country Lanes

Country Lanes cycle hire and tour bases will soon be appearing in Windsor Great Park and Beaulieu as the active travel business expands nationally. Richard Atkinson, Richard Hearn, Lars Thusen and Michael Bruce-Mitford are injecting funds and joining the Founder, Susan Achmatowicz, on the Board.

The investors, who bring a wealth of relevant industry experience to the Board, said, "Susan has got the business off to a great start; we are delighted to have won the competition to help her go national with it."

The parties were brought together by M&A firm Shield Corporate Finance. Douglas McNeill and Michael Parker of Shield, said, "We're delighted to see Country Lanes now equipped to pursue all the opportunities Susan has created for it."

Ex-investment banker Susan Achmatowicz said, "Being an entrepreneur is fun, but we needed a strong team to take Country Lanes forward, and I'm delighted that's what we now have in place."

"Shield were extreme tenacious and resourceful in bringing to fruition a great deal for Country Lanes and our four new investors. As it turned out, this was not a short or easy process, but Shield stuck with it and fought to the finish on my behalf, displaying a dogged determination to get the deal done through all the unpredictable ups and downs."

"As an ex-banker myself, I can safely say that I have never seen such great value delivered in a corporate finance transaction before. Shield was able to bring investment banking expertise to a much smaller transaction size than the investment banks would look at. Shield helped me reshape my company's strategy (away from package tourism and towards cycle hire operations at strategic tourist destinations) in a way that made it more attractive. They found buyers when all the obvious candidates had withdrawn. And they maintained competitive tension. I congratulate Shield on going the extra mile to deliver me another of their 'remarkable results'", said Susan Achmatowicz.


Background on Country Lanes

Country Lanes was founded in 1993 by Canadian-born Susan Achmatowicz after she quit a high-powered job in the City (as Vice President of the Bankers Trust Company).

In 2005 Country Lanes achieved a 'tourism first', winning the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise for its outstanding contribution to Sustainable Development.

Country Lanes has cycle hire centres based at rural railway stations in the New Forest, the Cotswolds, and Lake District, enabling customers to reach the start of their holiday by means other than private car, allowing access to non-motorists and encouraging car-free tourism. The company estimates 85% of customers travel to the start of their holiday by rail and explore by bicycle eliminating 1m car miles annually and reducing CO2 emissions by 328 tonnes each year.

The company has survived the twin calamities of foot and mouth disease, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as many of its customers at the time were Americans.

Awards won by Country Lanes

  • Queen's Award for Enterprise 2005 for an outstanding contribution to Sustainable Development
  • Rural Business Award in the South East England Development Agency's 2003 Sustainable Business Awards
  • Hampshire & Isle of Wight Business Environment Awards 2003: Country Lanes swept the board with awards in three categories: Innovation & IT, Small Business and Sustainable Transport
  • Achmatowicz has been hailed by Country Living as 'one of Britain's most enterprising rural women', and for two years running (2001, 2002) received recognition in the magazine's Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Photo Note: (Left to right) Douglas McNeill (Shield), Michael Bruce-Mitford, Roger (Country Lanes), Susan Achmatowicz (Country Lanes), Richard Atkinson, Richard Hearn, Lars Thusen

Further information can be found at


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